The London Housing Foundation supports Pact (the Prison Advice and Care Trust) in their work with prisoners and their families. We recently gave them £88,000 to expand their successful Peer Support scheme, which trains and supports ex-offenders to help others. We asked Andy Keen-Downs, CEO of Pact to tell us more about what they do.
Volunteers are essential to the success of Pact. In the past year our volunteers have given us over 24,000 hours of their time, providing vital support to prisoners, people with convictions and their families.
Volunteers have a huge part to play in the criminal justice system across the UK. Our volunteers provide much needed assistance to people who are often shunned by society; people who are vulnerable, marginalised and unheard.
At Pact, we are committed to giving our service users a voice. One of our core values is to consult and involve service users and people who have experienced the criminal justice system themselves, to ensure that we remain responsive and sensitive to their needs.
Supported by the LHF we will, over the next two years, recruit 30 new volunteers: people who have experience of prison and the courts who can offer support, advice and mentoring to others going through the system. Their lived experience is incredibly valuable to us in shaping the way we deliver services, and most importantly, it is incredibly valuable to the people who they support.
Why do people do this? Well, one of our volunteers said:
“I volunteer because I want to help others get off the path I used to be on!”
And it can make a real difference to the volunteer as well. His partner said:
“As the partner of a volunteer who was an ‘offender’, I’d like to thank you for seeing his potential. Support from Pact has given him a way into a direction in his life he has wanted for himself for a long time. The support and guidance has given him the confidence to pursue further qualifications. I hope that through his experiences with you, Pact won’t only be supporting the people you serve but also the volunteers. What a great organisation.”
The time that these volunteers dedicate to Pact will allow us to reach a significant number of prisoners and their families, reducing crime and enabling people to get back on their feet.
Pact supports people right across England and Wales, and the scope and variety of volunteering opportunities available at Pact are vast. You could be working with people being released from prison, with defendant’s and their families in court, children and families visiting their loved ones in prison, on our national helpline or even providing support in our central office team.
Like our staff, volunteers do not just ‘help’; they empower, enable and support.
If you would like more information about Pact, or would be interested in joining them, visit https://www.prisonadvice.org.uk/volunteering-opportunities. To hear more about why our volunteers love working with Pact please click here https://www.prisonadvice.org.uk/why-i-volunteer-for-pact and to read some of our volunteers’ stories click here https://www.prisonadvice.org.uk/pages/category/meet-our-volunteers.